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Old 11-22-2013
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Help with cockpit enclosure planning

So after making our migration south for the winter later than expected and enjoying refreshing nighttime winds of 55kts and temps below 40 degrees on the way, the admiral has decided that we might be getting too old for this s*it.

So I'm tasked with researching an isinglass cockpit enclosure for our boat. We've never had one, and we have no experience with them. If you have or had one:

Do you remove your panels when you don't want them down, or roll them up?

When do you use yours? Is it feasable to sail with them down? I'm thinking of all the salt spray and dew on the dodger and how I just look around it now

What did you like about yours?

What did you not like about it?

What should I be considering in designing one?
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Old 11-22-2013
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Re: Help with cockpit enclosure planning

Our boat is not suited to an enclosure, and I'm not quite ready (yet) anyway!

But.... many of our cruising buddies have recently added enclosures, in our area they tend to get used quite a lot. These are almost universally 'roll up' panels - I think that makes sense as it avoids having to find a good spot to store them below on a cruise. Most also have removeable 'zip outs' in the transition between dodger and bimini (which you probably already have)

We've seen our friends motor/motor sail with the side curtains in place, but most roll them up while sailing. We did some cruising in colder climes this summer together, the enclosures got a lot of use, esp in the mornings and in the evenings for entertaining. The cold water really cooled the cabin sole and space below, so the cockpit was more comfortable than below when enclosed.

Based on our observations, I'd pay close attention to maintaining access to cleats, rail mounted BBQs, outboards, etc, don't obscure the stern light, think about zippers vs snaps, and esp how the bottoms of the side curtains are going to attach to the deck/coamings. Have seen some coaming snap pins become literal PITAs when the curtains are rolled up...

One good idea we saw was having the fwd side panel open from the front, fold back inside and snap into the inside of the enclosure.. like a door latched open. Saved rolling up that panel and made it easier to let people in and out.
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Old 11-22-2013
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Re: Help with cockpit enclosure planning

We used to ridicule boats that had these enclosures. Then we bought a boat that has one and love it. It has a west coast style dodger and full height bimini with glass connector panel. All side panels on the bimini roll up. It has both glass and screen panes that get swapped out seasonally. We sail in Maine from May1 to December 1 so having this has really extended our season. Being able to be in the cockpit at sundown(mosquito time) has been great. It was designed with sailing in mind as it has specific panel openings that allow access to the winches without rolling up a full panel.

The only downside is that it does retract a bit from the looks when it is fully enclosed. but I can live with that.
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Old 11-22-2013
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Re: Help with cockpit enclosure planning

Mine had a full enclosure; we put it away and never looked back, and we sailing in sub-freezing temps. We do have a hard top and partial enclosure, which I feel is an excellent compromise.

a. You can't see around it in rain/mist. Not acceptable.

b. Access to lines and quick access to the deck is impeded. Not acceptable.

c. Dress really needs to be sufficient for short periods on-deck anyway, for obvious safety reasons, so blocking the wind is enough. We can sail in fleece and windbreakers, which is fine, with heat on in the cabin.

d. Panels cannot be rolled in cold weather; eventually, they will crack (I've cracked 2 sets in the 40s). Removal is likewise asking for trouble, and where would they go, anyway? They must be set in position before the cold arrives.

If I lived-aboard in certain damp areas I would reconsider, but very likely I would opt for cloth panels (white Sunbrella, perhaps with netting inserts?) for aft areas, as they are easier to remove and store, and will handle all sorts of handling and storage abuse. I have cloth side panels now (if the rain is from the side) and we are very happy with them.
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Old 11-22-2013
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Re: Help with cockpit enclosure planning

We have added a full enclosure on our last 2 boats. On a cold, rainy day it gets you out of the cave in protected warmth. Exhaust fumes can be a problem.
Eisinglass is not what you want for an enclosure. Rigid and needs to be stored flat. Most, including mine, are polyethylene. Rolling it in fleece blankets for storage will protect it from scratching. Assuming you have a dodger and bimini w/ a connector expect to pay about $500 per panel. My wife made ours.
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